When asked about his take on the balloon shot down that the US government say was a Chinese spy balloon, Seymour Hersh says it was more likely a [federally funded] project of the University of Fairbanks, to study the weather above the North Pole. (He adds that "Nobody is talking about that" and the US would do "anything to make up a fight with China."):
There were contracts given to the University of Fairbanks in northern Alaska... they needed coverage over the pole, when most of the major airlines go from the Asia to the America, over the pole, north pole there's no weather station there, and the pilots even though they're at 30,000 feet if there was a sudden downdraft or something going on below they needed to know so the Fairbanks got this contract to send up balloon type things, they were vehicles really that's what they shot down, to monitor monitor the weather, they had a federal contract...
Is there any corroborating evidence for this [counter-]claim that the balloon was more likely put up by the University of Fairbanks?
N.B. rewatching the segment they go from plural "balloons" to singular several times [back and forth], so it's none too clear which one[s] they might be talking about, since the US shot down several, but only blamed one on China, as far as I know. But anyway, giving them the benefit of the doubt, were any of the balloons shot down related to the University of Fairbanks?
For slightly more context, Hersh introduces the topic while being asked something about Ukraine, saying "Blinken refusing to go [to China] because of balloons", i.e. Hersh is using the plural there.